NORTH ADAMS -- Rebuilding the middle class has become a key campaign promise of former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo Jr., who was in the city Tuesday afternoon promoting an economic policy plan as part of his bid for the new 1st Congressional District seat.
"This is a concrete eight-point policy that will form the foundation of my economic development proposals from day one on Jan. 1, 2013," he said during a campaign stop in Berkshire Emporium and Antiques on Main Street. The visit was one of five during a tour of the 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, which included stops in Great Barrington, Pittsfield, Holyoke and Springfield.
Nuciforo, who currently serves as Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds, will face U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Alford activist Bill Shein in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 6.
The plan, according to Nuciforo, calls for the revival of American manufacturing, the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure; investment in higher education; providing middle class tax relief; ensuring "rock solid" retirement security; making financial reform stick; repealing Citizens United; and the revitalization of small businesses.
"This plan could have had 80 points but we've distilled it down to eight digestible points," Nuciforo said. "For instance, this country has lost 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last decade -- that's from Akron, Ohio to North Adams. This didn't have to happen."
"I will only support fair trade agreements that are fundamentally fair to American businesses," Nuciforo said.
Another important part of the plan, he said, is preparing a 21st-century workforce by investing in public education and improving access to higher education.
"Number one, student loans should be affordable for all borrowers," he said. "Recently, there was a debate in Congress about whether or not student loan interest rates should be doubled. It's a debate that never should have happened. In some sections of the country, the cost of higher education has outpaced the cost of living."
Nuciforo added, "Number two, Pell Grants need to be generously funded. This is one of our most successful Federal programs, which helps remove the barrier to college for many individuals."
The plan also calls for increased public investment in research and development, which benefits both industry and education.
As for middle class tax relief, he's calling for the Bush-era tax cuts to continue for 98 percent of tax filers.
"For the top 2 percent, we should revert to the 2001 tax structure," Nuciforo said. "The total tax burden on the top 2 percent is the lowest point its been at since World War II."
For more information, visit www.nuciforo.com.